FSB’s new report on the cost of late payments

We all know the cost of late payments. When large business pay late, it can put small firms out of business. It’s as simple as that. That’s why the Federation of Small Businesses are calling again for the Government to act.

Posted in Uncategorized

HD8 Business Show

Sayers Solutions are proud to announce that they are a very valued partner of the HD8 Business Show on 12th October between 9.30 – 4.30pm  at Emley Welfare Ground, Emley, Huddersfield, HD8 9RE

Come and say hello!  Book your free delegate tickets now – www.HD8network.co.uk/BusinessShow

The HD8 business event aims to connect you and make your business flourish, whether you work, rest or play in the area.   There are a range of seminars, breakout and drop-in sessions, as well as structured 1-2-1 networking and lots of exhibitors for you to connect with.

Other partners also include the Federation of Small Businesses, Rapid Action Security and BQ Magazine, who are the media partners.  Speakers and exhibitors at the HD8 Business Show include The Business Hub, Simply Networking and Lime Tree Europe.

The HD8 Business Show is an event run by the HD8 Network, who also has a vibrant, easy to navigate website, which has details of the HD8 villages, a business directory and an events calendar.  There is also a news section and more information about the HD8 Network and their monthly Meet Up networking events.  They also have an active and growing community on social media, as well as email marketing.

The HD8 Network believes that through connections we can all profit and be better together.

Posted in Events, fsb, Marketing

There is a lot to be said about the follow ups

I haven’t had much sales training in the past, but I have come to realise that the follow ups and 1:1 sessions outside of the networking events are even more important than attending the events themselves.

However it is very time consuming and often ineffective to meet for a coffee and chat with everyone you meet.  But there are many other ways that you can stay in touch with people – especially in this technology dominate world we live and work in.

A handy tip that I picked up many years ago, I think from Caroline Coward from the Business Network, was to write on the business card the event name and the date you met the person.  An invaluable tip! Especially if you attend a few events in one week!  With all the will in the world, especially at very busy active networking events, how many times have you put the cards in your pocket or bag and found them days later thinking “who were they again?”.

Another tip I picked up, from Mark Linton from the Business Growth Show, is to mark the card according to whether there was an opportunity for you, they were someone you could potentially refer business to etc, or perhaps they were bonkers and you never want to meet with them again (I’d urge you not to make snap decisions, everyone can have their off days – although there are some total cranks out there to stay well away from).  So maybe you want to develop your own key using * or £ or @’s.

After the networking event I then type up the contacts into an excel sheet and load them in to my email marketing tool, I then send an email saying it was nice to meet them, reminding them what I do and let them know I have added them to my mailing list which they can unsubscribe from.  To clarify, in my mind when there has been an exchange of business cards I assume that permission to contact has been given, however I wouldn’t do the same with a delegate list. (But that’s another story for another blog).

I also add them on Linkedin, again trying to send them a personal message letting them know where we met and that I’d like to add them as a connection, however Linkedin nowadays sometimes just adds connections without asking you to send a message.  I don’t really use Facebook to make connections with business contacts, however many others do and I often receive Facebook Friendship requests following networking events.

Whilst doing all of this I will also mark the cards to indicate what I have done and then I file them.  Up until now this has just been in a series of piles or in folders etc; however I am in the process of creating myself a binder containing the business cards in industry / business sector order – but that might be easier said than done!

I will then, and this is a weak spot of mine, try and make contact by telephone with some of the key people that I have met at the networking events and try to arrange a 1:1 with them.  I do also use a CRM system and put the appropriate contacts in there, setting tasks and reminders to follow up.  However if I am honest this is more organic than the rest of my process and is an area which could possibly do with more time and attention … when I can find more time that is!

Whatever you do, there is no right or wrong way of doing it, but I would strongly advise you not to just rely on the effort made in the event and don’t for heaven sake think it will happen off the back of one event … unless you are very lucky of course or simply in demand!

This is an excerpt from a series of blogs, if you would like to receive the full article please request it here.

What are your experiences of networking? Do you have a follow process?  If you would like to share your thoughts please comment below or join me on social media – Facebook Page, Twitter, Linkedin.

 

Posted in Email Marketing, Entrepreneur, Events, Marketing, Networking, Permission Marketing, Relationship Marketing, Sayers Solutions, Small Businesses

What do you want to get from networking?

With any strategy you need an objective.  Like any other tactic it is no good attending networking events and making connections if you don’t have an objective, unless you have plenty of time and money available and not bothered about an outcome.

Many people laugh at me when I ask what their objective for networking is, because clearly the majority of people believe it is just selling and business referrals.  And I guess in the long run I agree, however networking can be much more than that.

On one of my social media post recently – so not a scientific survey – respondents said they networked to bounce ideas off peers and to build a support network of likeminded people.

Initially my reason for attending networking events was to gather contacts for my email marketing – there is no use creating campaigns if you have no one to send them out to and I was starting from scratch.  However shortly into my early experience of networking I realised my objective was far more beneficial, it was more about practising telling people what I did and grow more confident in my offering and find my key messages.  I also used it for market research ie to find out what other businesses were out there, what did they do, how did they do it and what their needs were.  I continue to do this to this day, but now I predominately go out to promote events and activities I am involved in, show my face so people don’t think I have disappeared and to meet new faces.

This is an excerpt from a series of blogs, if you would like to receive the full article please request it here.

What are your experiences of networking? What are your objectives for networking? Do you just sell at networking events or are you there for other reasons? If you would like to share your thoughts please comment below or join me on social media – Facebook Page, Twitter, Linkedin.

Posted in Email Marketing, Entrepreneur, Events, Marketing, Networking, Sayers Solutions, Small Businesses

Making Tax Digital: Government concessions (fsb update)

The Treasury has announced a change of course on their Making Tax Digital Agenda with regard to mandatory quarterly tax reporting. These concessions are a result of FSB’s lobbying work and open dialogue with government.

Removing small firms and the self-employed with modest turnovers altogether from the Making Tax Digital proposals will now mean that in addition to the 1.6 million small businesses that were already excluded as a result of these changes, a further 1.3 million small firms will no longer be in scope.

This means that half of the UK’s 5.4 million small businesses will now not be affected by quarterly tax reporting. The expansion of cash accounting, a longer lead-in time for implementation and the offer of direct financial assistance will also help.

Read Mike Cherry’s comment on the HMT Making Tax Digital announcement

This information was provided by the FSB.

Posted in fsb, Small Businesses

Who is in your network?

There are some extremely structured networking groups whose main focus is finding and creating referrals for the people in the room; essentially they are your extended sales team.  Most of these people will attend regularly, if not required by membership, and therefore the process of getting to “know, like and trust” is accelerated.

However networking is not just about signing up and committing to a group!  It doesn’t even have to be reserved for an event.  Networking occurs every day, in every way (ow that rhymed!).

Your personal contact network are the people you have around you, they can include your business contacts but not exclusively.  They are your family and friends, the people you drink in the pub with or those you pray with.  They can be the parents of your children’s friends; they can be the person you chat with each morning walking the dog.  You don’t have to have even ever met them, as of course they can be the people you are connected with over the internet, especially those on social media.

The people in your network are made up of Strong and Weak ties.  Your strong ties are your friends and family, those that love and care for you and know you well.  Your weak ties are for example business contacts and strangers. When growing your business, surprisingly, it is often your weak ties that will be more useful to you.  As they are more likely to give honest and unbiased feedback and advice because they have no investment in your success or failure; whereas friends and family are likely to try and protect you, by telling you that your idea is brilliant because that’s what they think you want to hear, or tell you it is too risky because they want to save you from potential harm you.

This is an excerpt from a series of blogs, if you would like to receive the full article please request it here.

What are your experiences of networking? Who in your network has been most helpful for your business? If you would like to share your thoughts please comment below or join me on social media – Facebook Page, Twitter, Linkedin.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Events, Marketing, Networking, Sayers Solutions, Small Businesses

Online Marketing

One of the biggest reasons for bad websites is the poor conceptualization of what the Web can and cannot do.  Online marketing strategy is more than just transferring traditional marketing material to the internet.  Messages should be formed according to the dynamics of this new medium.

The web not only allows interactivity but also provides the user with a plethora of media options such as text, images, online chats, audio and video.  There is also now an abundance of channels on which to engage, including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube.  In the Online World the user becomes empowered.

In its raw state the field of Online Marketing concerns the building of highly interactive relationships through various virtual channels. These relationships complement the physical channels to strengthen the brand’s image.

Sayers Solutions can help you explore what the web can do for your business and build you an Online Marketing Campaign.  We can connect you with website designer, working alongside the construction and management, we can help you to produce blogs and email marketing campaigns, provide consultation and training on social media and source SEO expertise, within an overall, tailor-made marketing strategy.

Why not get in touch and have a chat about your conceptualization of what the web can do for you – 07790705223

Posted in Content, digital media, Email Marketing, Marketing, Social Media, website

Driving Traffic to your website

Yesterday was the second of Sayers Solutions’ small business marketing peer support sessions and whilst it was a very small group, we had a good chat about driving traffic to our websites. As I had time after the session I have been able to provide a summary of our discussions and highlighted some of the points that we covered.

First of all we started our discussion about our own particular websites and the obstacles and advantages we had with them and the objectives and purpose of the individual websites. This conversation also included the make-up of the website, for example whether it was a content managed system (CMS) or WISIWIG (What I see is what I get) coded sites.

We also mentioned and discussed the merits of Google Analytics for measuring website traffic and the many many many different things it can measure, including keywords, number of users and time on the site.

The first tactic mentioned relating to driving traffic to the website was social media. Attendees have built communities on social media, been growing their followers and posting links to their websites. The majority said that they personally didn’t find Facebook helpful for their business; however the group was not representative of all businesses and sectors. They did instead say they found good value in Twitter and Linkedin.

The conversation then led to search engine optimisation and a discussion of keywords and a useful tip of using Google Adwords was shared, as a way of measuring the popularity of the keyword; the more expensive it is, the more popular it is which highlights the importance of using it.

We had a lengthy discussion about the variety of networking events around after one of the attendees said that they had seen a spike in traffic to their site after attending networking events. Some of the events mentioned were BNI, Huddersfield Huddle, HD8 Network, MY Network run by the MY Chambers of Commerce as well as Brand Yorkshire and Wilson’s Republic.

This led to a conversation about ensuring that promotion of online activities was also created offline. For example making sure that website and social media details were on business cards, flyers and other printed material.

One attendee asked whether more emphasis should be made on say for example social media or is it best to focus time on printed material and it was agreed that no one way was the best way, that everything was important and linked together. It was also agreed that what worked for one might be completely different for others and it was very much about trial and error, including posting on different days, times of days and also about the frequency of posts.

We also talked about blogging, guest blogging and press releases. It was suggested that all content should be repurposed and used for a multitude of different places, although the origin of content should be your own website and so should be published there before paraphrasing or publishing elsewhere.

Whilst we were discussing guest blogging and press releases there was a conversation about how and where to get your articles published elsewhere. We talked about building relationships with key influencers on twitter and sharing blogs and content with them, where others would need telephone calls or emails.

This also led to a discussion about membership organisations including the fsb, Chambers of Commerce and HD8 Network who are content hungry and crying out for it to be sent to them so that they can publish it on your behalf.

There was also a recommendation to become a media tart and to contact journalists, touting themselves out as spokespeople on particular topics, for example one of the attendees has a 3D printer, so it was suggested they could inform media outlets they were available if a quote was needed on 3D printing.

Back links were also discussed, it entered conversation when someone shared their experience of conducting competitor analysis and found that one of their competitors, whose website was not great, was still receiving a high volume of traffic because they were mentioned on and had links from prestigious websites.

While we were talking about blogging or writing articles one attendee highlighted a problem that they weren’t really a words person, instead they were more visual, understandably as they were a graphic designer. In response to this the discussion returned to keywords and seo and the encouragement to utilise the alt tags for images. Alt tags are there for accessibility and usability reasons; one example of this is so that readers (electronic devices used by people with vision impairments) can describe the images. Because accessibility and usability is a legal requirement for websites, search engines rank websites higher on the employment of these areas. It is similarly important because users use words and phrases to search with and are also what the search engine spider record.

There was also discussion about video marketing and how more importance was put on creating and posting videos nowadays. It can provide interesting usable content, which one attendee especially said would be easier for them to create; providing a behind the scenes of them at work. Again an importance on keywords was highlighted, especially when completing the descriptions.

As you will see there were a number of tactics covered in our session today concerned with driving traffic to your website, which by no means provides an exhaustive list. The important tactics that kept reoccurring were keywords and content; whether it is for social media, blogging, press releases, video marketing or even for the content on your main site, ensuring that you have considered the words and phrases that people are searching for is imperative. Clearly posting links and creating back links is also important, as is an analysis of third party sites for your content and links to point to your website. The importance of networking events and other offline activities including printed material creating a balance and blend of all tactics that are appropriate for you and your target market is also key to driving traffic to your website. Without of course forgetting the type of website you have, how it is built, especially when it comes to accessibility and usability, as well as the purpose behind the website and ability to measure your success.

There were many crossovers of conversation and we would go back to topics previously mentioned to clarify, highlight and link points made. There were many other examples and points made which I have not captured here.

We hope this summary has been informative and useful for you. As much as it would be wonderful if we were able to provide this overview for each meeting, we don’t want to make promises that we can’t fulfil, so if you don’t want to miss out and really want to benefit from the advice that is being shared amongst the group please book your place now!

Don’t forget places are limited and we have to work on a first come first served basis.

Sayers Solutions is currently running sessions in Shepley and in August will start holding sessions in Leeds too. Find out more information here or book your place now.

If you have any comments to add or would like to discuss this further please feel free to comment below or come and find us on social media – Facebook page, Twitter and Linkedin.

Posted in Content, digital media, Entrepreneur, Events, fsb, Marketing, Networking, Peer Support Sessions, Relationship Marketing, Sayers Solutions, SEO, Small Businesses, Social Media, website

Networking is a slow burner

Reaping the rewards of networking is a slow burner; well I find that’s the case anyway.

Networking is not about instant gratification and ability to sell sell sell, although I do know people that have been lucky like that and I too have had many occasions where I have done business on first meeting, however networking is about more than that.

Networking is about building a relationship with others, it’s about building an understanding of what each other does, finding out how they do it and gaining evidence and confidence that the person is who they say they are and can deliver what they say they can.

It is also about the right opportunity.  For those that are fortunate enough to need a website and have the money to pay for it, or seeking legal or financial advice for example, networking is a great places to go – what is a networking event without those types of types of businesses – however knowing the right people to refer those businesses to can be all about the timing.

There are many people that I am still at the beginning of a working relationship with, that I met many years ago at the beginning of my self-employment and others that I have referred and recommended to many people but (as far as I am aware) up until now no business has been transacted, however all of a sudden the right client or the right project appears out of nowhere for them.

This is an excerpt from a series of blogs, if you would like to receive the full paper please request it here.

What are your experiences of networking? Is there a format, time or organisation that you prefer over others? If you would like to share your thoughts please comment below or join me on social media – Facebook Page, Twitter, Linkedin.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Networking, Relationship Marketing, Small Businesses Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

I did do an apprenticeship after all!

After a conversation at the HD8 Network Meet Up with David Broadhead last month, I now realise I did do an apprenticeship!  I was an Intrapreneur!

Having worked from the age of 11 in numerous different roles, I have received an invaluable insight to how businesses operate.

Whilst at high school I had a number of jobs.  The main one was at the Boulevard Restaurant, which during the summer and bank holidays, due to being in a seaside village, was extremely busy.  In the early years I worked in the kiosk selling ice creams to those strolling down Shore Road.  On a couple of extremely busy afternoon/evenings I was asked to do extra hours clearing tables, when the masses had left the beach and wanted feeding.  From this I progressed to plating puddings working weekends and holidays between May and September.  Towards the later years I stood pride of place behind the bar serving drinks and taking payment for bills most Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons and 8 days a week during the holidays – it honestly felt like it!  Before I moved out of the village at the age of 17 I did do a few shifts there as a waitress too!

During this time I also worked in a bakery for my last few years in the village.  One year I even worked in a car park! Earlier in my working career I worked in a café in Chi (the neighbouring city) and I even tried a paper round, but it was the free paper that was to be delivered to every house and was only paid something like 2p a paper, which I soon bored of (or was I too busy doing all the other jobs?) and tried to employ my brother to do it while he did his dog walking duties but he wasn’t that stupid either!

During the interlude of village and my adult life I was a live in waitress at Pontins Holiday Camp!

When I moved up’north I started my exploration into the office world and became an office junior.  As far as I remember I mostly smoked a fag while making the bosses coffee, while they smoked their fags.  Or I sent a fax or typed a letter for them while smoking a fag.  Yes the job was so dull I did everything while smoking a fag to make it more of a challenge. Can you imagine!  Now a days at most places you can’t even smoke near the work premises – even in the car parks!!  Although, I can actually remember computerising the long and very boring manual stock control process which would take up days of my week to an excel sheet, that would just take a couple of hours (if that) to update.

As you will see from my Linkedin profile I then had a series of jobs which got more and more interesting as the years progressed while I tried to climb the slippery pole of progression, mostly moving sideways in order to get ahead.  To my detriment I have found if you start at the bottom it is extremely hard for others to let you improve yourself!

However the benefit of starting from the bottom and doing the filing and the jobs that no one else wants to do, is the aspect you get; I got to see where everything fit and how it all worked.

I was then able to use this knowledge and experience to enable me to make suggestions and find better, more efficient ways of doing things.  But unfortunately this was not always well received. I was there to make and take phone calls for example, not there to recommend procedural improvements.

I remember my Dad saying to me “keep your head down Merewyn and don’t upset your boss, no one will thank you for showing them a better way of doing their job”.  But I was foolhardy and enthusiastic, I wanted to make a difference, wanted to share what I had learnt, I wanted to help.  Eventually I was drained ….

Conveniently at that time I met my now husband and we talked about travelling and experiencing the world.  Cutting a very long story (a bit) short(er) when we returned to the UK I tried applying for fancy titled jobs, but the recruitment agencies were telling me I couldn’t be put forward because I didn’t have a degree.  I said that I was thinking about going back to university to get a degree, to which they’d say “what do you want to do that for you’ve got over 10 years (office) work experience?”, so I’d ask them if they’d in that case line me up with an interview for the aforementioned jobs.  “No sorry” they said “you haven’t got a degree”.  And with that I signed myself up for a Business Management Foundation Degree at Wakefield College, which I topped up at Huddersfield University, graduating with a Combined Studies Marketing and Strategy Degree.

 

How did I get on to my (work)life story? Oh yes Intrapreneur.

So David Broadhead, from Partners in Management was talking at the HD8 Network Meet Up networking event about Intrapreneurs being the new big thing that large organisations are starting to adopt.  Motivating their staff allowing them, sorry embracing them, to have a voice in the way the work place and the procedures are formed.

David says “An Entrepreneur is an Intrapreneur that longer works for you …..” and that’s me!

Don’t get me wrong, I am obedient (to a point – but both my husband and father might disagree) and a consciences worker, but I have decided to be valued for the recommendations and difference I can make for my clients, rather than be scared of losing my job because I have upset someone’s ego.

For the past 8 years I have been self employed working with small businesses, helping them to focus on what they do best.  Initially this was simply admin based, but when I graduated from my degree I then started to assist with their strategy and marketing plans, as well as implementing tactics which include email marketing, social media and website management, public relations amongst many others.

So if you would like to enrich your business with my wealth of experience as an Intrapreneur, knowledge gained from my (mature student) degree and 8 years of finally becoming an Entrepreneur let’s have a no obligation chat.

Posted in Entrepreneur, Motivational Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,